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Operation Cue (1955)

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Operation Cue (1955)

Publication date 1955
Digitizing sponsor U.S. Federal Civil Defense Administration
Eerie nuclear tests on houses and dummies at the Nevada Test Site.


3:11:25- 3:26:84
Nice image of woman in slacks and a scarf walking towards the Civil Defense Operations building (looks like it's in a barrack or a trailer) at the Atomic Energy Commission's Nevada test site.

worth noting: Good aerial view (low to the ground) of test houses along the Nevada test site. Looks eerieÑranch style homes in the middle of the desert.(7:13:55- 7:19:02)

¥ 7:46:84- 8:05:50
Extremely creepy series of shots of mannequins lined up outside at the test site. First we see several men lining them up (one of them looks at the camera). Next we see bizarre close ups of the 1950s style mannequins with the blue sky behind them. Wind goes through their clothing making them look animated. The final mannequin looks like Frank Sinatra and has no arms.

¥ 10:34:98- 11:07:50
Series of disturbing images of test homes being blown away by the explosion of the bomb. Perhaps too clichZ<caron>...

¥ 12:13:09- 12:20:38
A man in a construction hat walks about the rubble the explosion caused (only 24 hrs. after the bomb went off).

¥ 13:04:49- 13:12:93
Excellent pan of power lines lying on or leaning to their sides due to the blast. The desert looks beautifulÑwe see the dark mountains in the distance and the sky is blue.

worth noting: Observers of the blast line up for food in the middle of the test site.(13:50:33- 13:58:82)



Reviewer: IPayer - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - April 1, 2015
Subject: Audience?
I wonder if anyone would be able to tell me or venture a guess as to who the film was originally intended for/in what capacity it might have been screened for contemporary audiences. Would it have aired on public television, or at the theater?
Reviewer: JonnyBee - favoritefavoritefavorite - April 12, 2010
Subject: Operation Cute 1955
He was there--my father, James W. Bastian, a writer/observer from Atomics International, Battle Creek, Michigan, age 34. He got cancer in 1967, treated with chemo and cobalt radiation, contracted lymphoscarcosis 1971, passed 1983; he had polaroids and prints of his experience; mannequins, houses, color print of morning explosion; he was 6-2", 180#s, wore baseball cap, dickies; never said much about event later; film is cheery, OMG wonderment; nice CD production; jc penney donated clothes, according vegas red cross and newspaper account of event in Las Vegas Tribune newspaper; films captures/represents business as usual bomb test for scientific discovery; he build bomb shield/wall in our washington, D.C. home in 1954 like that shown; glad reporter Joan Collin had wonderful roast beef sandwich that survived nuclear blast. my dad had tea (one of his pictures).
Reviewer: JohnnyTopQuark - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - February 9, 2010
Subject: Consider the Physics and Facts and Leave Behind Emotion, Fear and Misconception
Neutron radiation in the first few milliseconds of the explosion can induce radiation--and it does--BUT it's "power" decreases exponentially with distance. With this relatively low-yield weapon anything further than a km or so would be completely safe from neutrons and gamma radiation. Therefore, it is not impossible that there would be hardly any radiation in the area, especially if most of the fallout cloud had been blown away quickly.

Let me mention this again: it seems VERY apparent that this was a VERY low-yield weapon. Possibly around 10 kt.

Do you think they didn't send in people to test those sites thoroughly before they let the media in? Even in the 50s the government was paranoid about "looking good".

My point is:

Although I would've taken more precautions and of course the government would as well nowadays, that doesn't mean that they were being completely reckless.

People's conception of the destructive power of nuclear weapons and ESPECIALLY radiation are horrendously exaggerated--verging on paranoia and mass hysteria and surrounded by a giant, mystical veil of ignorance (the word meaning "not knowing" in this sense; definitely not an insult).

If any of you guys are interested in learning more about the the physics of nuclear detonations, let me know. I would love to recommend some literature to get you started.
Reviewer: badwsky - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 9, 2007
Subject: What? No Geiger Counters!
What pap for the masses! During this whole schtick
not one Geiger counter is shown. 24 hours after the blast they are walking around in t-shirts. I didn't even see anyone wearing gloves. This was a clean blast with zero fallout? They didn't even say the word fallout! How many of these people at the site ended up being off the charts statistically with cancer developing later? That is the real test. No, they had to show that they could all chow down at the "safe" outer perimeter away from ground zero. Nuts and MAD. See the difference between dosemeters and counters at radmeters4u dot com.
Reviewer: Kablam - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - May 8, 2007
Subject: A Couple of Brains
Gee whiz, give a species a couple of extra brains and look what they do.

Watch this and know your potential.
Reviewer: Robot Mike - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - June 2, 2006
Subject: Hmmm
This is actually quite a sobering film. Disturbing... Please watch.
Reviewer: bursto22 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - May 5, 2006
Subject: like
Reviewer: scem305 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - February 4, 2006
Subject: Fact or Fiction
One has to remember that when this film was created, the Trinity tests were only 10 years earlier and information was still being developed on how radiation works. While there are some areas that appear to be amusing by 21st century views, the film displays good tests that have also been applied to reinforcing against hurricanes and tornadoes (i.e. wind effects). Our knowledge of radiation today is much more informed than 1955, but without those tests, we would still be wondering how time, shielding and distance plays a role with radiation. This film is still informative to emergency management functions, especially when a nuclear threat still exists, even if it happens to be terrorists on the ground instead of ICBMs and bombers flying through the air.
Reviewer: Dr. Bangbox - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 10, 2006
Subject: Apocalypse Management
Atomic war is no big deal once all your houses are concrete bunkers! The whole thing is a 3 Little Pigs homily. Most bizarre. Notice how the "reporter" has a brand-new (For 1955!) Thunderbird! After the blast, everybody has a radioactive picnic! Mind control of the crudest sort. And thank God for the American Gas Institute. Private enterprise will be a big help after the attack, especially if they are allowed to advertise a little. No one should not watch this arcane classic.
Reviewer: beagle1983 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - March 20, 2004
Subject: operation cue
Nothing coy cute or comic here. Nor are there any childish remarks in this review as I'm not a boomer, I grew up.This test was a valuable research tool. It got the ball rolling for civil defense and got the thinking processes going for the populus who if better informed are more likely to plan and less likely to panic and it provided quantifiable data for critical research. Yes it is dated and yes it is flawed, but the thing to remember is that like Freud's hypotheses a starting place is not going to be as perfected as the knowlege and creative and critical thinking it spawns. Yes light weight houses were used to have a starting point standard to quantifiably compare survivable shelters by; a control subject if you will. Much of what is needed for modern homeland defense might well draw from these tests and yes even this film. Consider what modern threats the USA might face and what kind of educational films might be needed to properly educate the public and help them prepare themselves for the kinds of problems that might result. Nuclear holocaust from a nuclear weapons exchange with the USSR was a genuine threat until the regimes collapse. Some kind of preparation of the public had to be effected. This film is valuable for the novice nuke student as well, again as some kind of starting point which in any endeavour must exist. Think about it.
Reviewer: Spuzz - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 18, 2003
Subject: Cue the bomb!
There are two Operation Cues on this site, and since both of them are quite cimilar to another, thought I'd kill two birds with one bomb and review them together.
The two operation cues detail the bomb explosions that happened in Nevada. What starts off these films hilariously is the dismissal of these films at the very start of them. Like, this is an important film, but it's irrelevant now. A 'reporter' named Joan Collin (the name of the reporter is dropped in the later version) drops by before the blast and familiarizes herself with all the stuff that will be blown up into smithereens. I found it hilarious that the male narrator would come on basically after that and narrate the piece, and the woman would come on with silly female asides as 'being a mother and a house wife, I was quite interested about the food tests"
Soon, the bomb hits, and everything goes boom. 24 hours later of course, everything is fine, and they go trolloping around the site as if everything is hunky dory. The whole thing ends off, as it shoot with a cook-out. Why, who knows. A bizarre classic, and a must see on this site!
Reviewer: shanaphile - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - October 9, 2003
Subject: A
From the vantage point of 50 years beyond, "Operation Cue" comes across as sheer camp: a Cold War Katie Couric marches through strategically placed manequins; workers build homes and bury food; bystanders watch the explosion through run-of-the-mill sunglasses; and all share in a buffet excavated from the test's remains.

But if my experience is indicative of others, a hush overtook the laughter when the bomb was detonated, a reminder that this living nightmare spawned a palpable insecurity that defined more than one generation of Americans.

If "Operation Cue" is of interest, read Tom Vanderbilt's "Survival City." It makes sense of the seemingly random events seen in the movie, and it is one of my favorite books of all time.
Reviewer: Kold War Kid - favoritefavoritefavorite - March 5, 2003
Subject: Operation Cue
Just goes to show you: whether buying a home for your family, or to get blown to pieces by a nuclear test, the 3 most important things are: location, location, location. And somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't metal objects such as cans, pens, etc. pick up some atomic radiation from the explosion? If that's the case, I wouldn't have been as eager as these folks to chow down at a nuclear test site 24 hours after the explosion. Was the radioactivity different then? I wish someone had told me there was going to be math involved with this flick; I would have taken notes.
Reviewer: Lewis Payne - favoritefavoritefavorite - February 11, 2003
Subject: Operation Cue
Strange examination of the effects of a (apparently relatively small) nuclear blast on various common items. While some seem an understandable thing to test for - the durability of a electrical substation, for instance - other things seem somewhat odd, such as perishable food, or a lightweight house (which gets, as expected, completely obliterated). The scariest thing about this film, however, is that the entire group of observers (reporters, Civil Defense officials, etc) start bumbling around the test only 24 hours after the detonation, even settling down to eat a meal which gets prepared on site!
Reviewer: Christine Hennig - favoritefavoritefavorite - October 21, 2002
Subject: Operation Cue
A plucky girl reporter observes Operation Cue, an atomic bomb test of houses and household items. Because she is a woman (the film makes this very clear), she is especially interested in how the bomb affects clothing, home furnishings, and food. It's all pretty much what you'd expect, but like The House in the Middle, one wonders if any of it will matter at all when the apocalypse comes. There's some pretty weird moments if you look carefullyÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂfor instance, calling the container of food to be tested "Grandma's Pantry" boggles the mind if you think about it (yep, I love good old-fashioned nuked food, I do!). One of the few films of its kind to be in color, and the film quality is excellent to boot.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ***. Also available on Atomic Scare Films, Vol. 2 and The H-Bomb and Other Smash Hits.
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